The Milwaukee Bucks' search for their next coach hasn't reached its conclusion yet, but the short list of contenders for the job may be coming into focus.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Bucks' front office is meeting with two finalists for the job -- San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina and former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer -- in New York today. Reports surfaced yesterday that Budenholzer was being heavily wooed by the Bucks (and the Toronto Raptors) for their coaching vacancy.
Here's more from Wojnarowski on the state of the Bucks' coaching search:
Milwaukee Bucks ownership is meeting Tuesday in New York with two finalists for the franchise's head coaching job -- Mike Budenholzer and Ettore Messina, league sources told ESPN.
Budenholzer is the front-runner for the job, and remains engaged in talks with Toronto and Milwaukee, league sources said.
Messina, a Spurs assistant and a decorated FIBA coach, has gathered significant momentum in the Bucks' interview process.
Messina has been one of the world's top coaches for decades, a legendary international coach with four EuroLeague championships as a head coach. Messina has coached such global powers as Benetton Treviso, Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow.
Messina interviewed for the Charlotte Hornets opening, too. Messina, 58, has been part of Gregg Popovich's Spurs staff since 2014. He previously had been an assistant with Los Angeles Lakers under Mike Brown.
Budenholzer was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2015 and coached the Atlanta Hawks from 2013-18. He went 213-197 in that span and led the Hawks to their first-ever 60-win season in '14-15. He and Atlanta parted ways shortly after the 2017-18 season ended..
Joe Prunty held the Bucks' coaching job -- albeit on an interim basis -- for most of last season after taking over once coach Jason Kidd was fired on Jan. 22. Prunty went 21-16 and led the Bucks to the playoffs, where they fell to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the first round.
Messina coached the Spurs in Games 3, 4 and 5 of the team's first-round series with the Golden State Warriors. Popovich missed those games while grieving the death of his wife, Erin, who died during the series after battling a prolonged illness. Popovich has coached the team since 1997-98 and is the longest-tenured coach in the NBA. He will also be coaching Team USA before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Aside from this interview with Messina, the Bucks were set to interview fellow Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt for their vacancy as well.